Category Archives: Behavior

An Uneasy Observation

The TikTok I made about this interested me.

The original post from the wife I mentioned, it garnered the usual amount of teeth-gnashing; mainly from those who got irritated about the therapist’s quote:

“…your phone is YOU… the stuff you interact with…the words you share…your pictures…and most people keep that hidden for a reason…and it usually has nothing to do with privacy…it’s about controlling whether people know the real you.” (“Even your partner,” it should have said.)

Reading that smacks you in the face with the truth. It’s like if your browsing history were published in the newspaper or if a list of all the people you’ve texted, DMed, or interacted with were published for the world to see. Our phones are a great reflection of the totality of us, especially when juxtaposed with our relationships.

As Dave Worthen preaches: “You share your bodies, you brush your teeth together, you have children, you spend most of your lives connected, but lord help you if someone wants to share your phone, even with the best of intentions.”

I’m not saying I have all the answers, but reading and hearing all the commentary about this anecdote really gave me further insight into just how big of a problem this is for most of the modern world. Our ancestors didn’t have to worry about this: most behaviors were direct and observable, and privacy/secrecy were not issues ideal partners had to confront.

Love, X

A 1,700 Day

The other day was an odd day. I woke up at 12:55 a.m. with something I was struggling to remember suddenly clear in my mind. I started my day like any other. Coffee, cat petting, and play. Because I was up earlier, I started doing pushups. For whatever reason, I felt like my body was lighter than air. Most mornings, I am burning with energy. It’s been that way since October 2020, when I began to transform my body. 100, 200, then my daily limit. I’d kept my promise to keep it reasonable for a long, long time. Going into work, I continued to do sets at odd moments. It wasn’t as if I were thinking about doing them. I’d be on the floor, wherever I was inside the buildings or out, doing pushups again. By the end of the day, I’d done more than 1,700. I’m sure I forgot to count some. (Just realized how many times I typed “I” in this post!)

The law of increments helped me to realize that while I can’t do 500 pushups at once without tearing something, I can do multiples of that amount if I do them in smaller groups. Whether it’s weights, walking, running, or pushups. That’s part of why I encourage people to use their day to their advantage. They might not be able to set aside 45 minutes in a block, but they certainly can spare 1-2 minutes several times a day. If you harness that realization, you can make amazing gains toward whatever goal you’re aiming for.

It was an odd day to blow past my intentional record. Not planned, not even really trying. It reminded me again that most numbers and obstacles for this sort of thing are mentally anchored and not connected to real limits.

I was a little sort the next day, but not unusually so. If I deliberately pushed myself to do so many on a given day, I’m certain I would be unable to move the next day. Pushups once served me as an anti-anxiety tool. I used physical fatigue to beat down the anxious moments. Counting them out worked as meditation for me. Before my emergency surgery, I decided to do far fewer of them, recognizing that I’d taken an effective tool and gone too far with it. That’s usually the case with anything; we adopt behavior and find it helps. And sometimes, we use that effective way to overcome feelings or behavior incorrectly. For most, it is a glass of wine each evening, then two, then a bottle over time.

Having a FitBit is a luxury that helps me. Over time, the analytics pop up and remind me of correlations between sleep, mood, heart rate, and activity. Every once in a while, I have a day when my brain is in a zone of both activity and disconnectedness. And on those days, it correlates to my body feeling like I’m tapped into hidden energy.

For the days when I’m not feeling it, I go ahead and do my thing anyway. Because motivation follows action. If you get moving even when you might not want to, over time, that becomes the new normal to you and you can understand that it’s your own mind causing you problems. Not your tiredness or schedule.

Love, X

The Farthing Place

I wish I had coined this phrase.

It’s a psychology label for our tendency to go to the wildest possible scenario in our minds when we don’t have adequate information.

Some people might refer to it as the grandmother tendency. If we’re traveling and don’t let them know we made it home safe, they might actually convince themselves we’re in a ditch upside down while the car is on fire.

Most of us do it, especially the overthinkers.

I will defend the tendency slightly. As someone who literally had a plane crash on my residence, among other surprises and tragedies, I’m not foolish enough to believe that the worst-case scenario does not, in fact, happen with some frequency.

One reason I like this term and label is that it allows me to tag it mentally when I get a feedback loop in my head and can’t shake it. Identifying that it’ś happening is the first step toward managing it.

Love X

Let’s Go Crazy Through Authenticity

Of all the messages out there in the world, the luminous one is that if we could permit each other be as ridiculously inconsistent and weird as we need to be, we all might benefit. I’m not fooled. I’ve seen behind enough curtains to know that most people have some outrageous behavior and ideas. Most keep them tightly closeted. The Golden Rule applies to letting people be themselves if that’s the way they choose to be. We tend to ridicule or shout them down, even with our silence. And then, POOF! We all reach the point when the realization that time is indeed limited swoops down and makes just about everything seem utterly stupid.

Love, X

Words of Encouragement

I’m posting this because I get frustrated with people. It’s not because they want to see me fail (though some do); rather, it’s because I see them complicate the issue of being the weight they want to be. “Accepting and loving yourself as you are is the best. If you can’t, then DO something. Forget the gym. It’s all on the what-you-put-in-your-mouth side of the equation.”

I LOVE this picture of me. First, it was a fantastic moment in 2005 with my nephew and his friend. It’s not photoshopped. I weighed around 253. They gave me hell and laughter for challenging them to a balloon stomach challenge. Obviously, I won.

I didn’t add any exercise to my life when I dropped almost all my weight. I realized that I was fooling myself by eating way more than I imagined. The math (and results) proved it. I did add exercise because I was afraid my cousin would bludgeon me for not doing so. She was right. Exercise has its own benefits. But I continue to remind people that the best way to lose weight without upending your life is to control what you put in your mouth. It’s a lifelong commitment rather than a sprint. And it can be tough. Food is freaking amazing.

I went from the low 250s to the low 140s. It felt amazing. Now, my setpoint is 165. I’m not self-conscious at all. Because I finally learned that IF I want or need to, I can change the things about myself that are under my control. The rest? IDGAF. Being 55 has its privileges, and I’m so glad to be still alive. I’m not sure that this would be true had a lightning bolt not smacked me in the head a couple of years ago. The same bolt had unintended consequences, that’s true. But not being alive makes enjoying things a bit impossible.

People constantly talk about their weight. Or they needlessly feel self-conscious about it. It’s easy to know when they’ve hit their own fulcrum point because they finally try something different. Talk shifts to behavior. And that makes me happy.

So many beautiful people stress about their weight or how they look. Most of them don’t need to. We have them in our lives because we love them. We don’t see them as they see themselves. People are beautiful because of who they are. If they are unhappy, we want them to find a way to look and feel the way they want to.

Nothing is more astounding than watching someone do the things that give them success. I watch them get confidence – and invariably, they get their huge smile back. This is true about weight, and it’s true when they change their lives in other ways.

While I’m on the soapbox, I wish people would stop being timid about how they look. Especially when it comes to people seeing them or seeing their own pictures. Some of y’all are such tremendously beautiful people the way you are. Most of us do not care if there are extra pounds. We don’t see pounds or focus on the imperfections y’all perceive.

It’s in the eye of the beholder. If you’re not happy, then you can do something. Otherwise, don’t worry about how the rest of us see you. If you’re in our lives, believe me, you’re awesome enough.

Meanwhile, if you feel bad, just look at my picture from 2005 and imagine how many years I continued to make bad choices. And laugh!

Love, X

PS I welcome smack talk if you want to be snarky. I’m being serious.

Five Minutes/55 Years

Recently, I made a megamix of Rocky theme songs. Though I am not great at it, I made one remix that is impossible to remain immobile while it’s playing. The “Five Minute” rule works great when I’m not feeling it. Because it’s certainly true that motivation follows action rather than the converse. People wait for the urge, motivation, or willpower. It’s the opposite. As soon as the thought hits your noggin, you get up and do whatever it is you were about to put off. Or worse, say aloud, “I need to do so-and-so.” One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was: “DON’T tell me what you’re going to do. Live it. Show me.”

Most of the time, if you practice doing, telling yourself you’ll spend just five minutes on a task cures your procrastination enough to keep going once you start. That’s true with so many things in life.

The Five Minute rule aligns seamlessly with my Law of Increments. If you do a little consistently throughout the day and days, before long, you will amass much effort – and probably consequences.

I know Rocky is old school. One of the reasons it did so well is because Sylvester Stallone (whose real name is Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone) was a nobody with a story about overcoming odds. He was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay.

Late in my 9th-grade year, I got pissed off at myself one early spring afternoon and decided to go running. I figured if the violence in the house hadn’t killed me, I could risk a heart attack. We lived on the downside of a hill in Tontitown near 4K farms. To say that I regretted starting that day is an understatement. I ran a mile. My shorts were ragged, and my shoes weren’t running shoes. Poor aptly describes my predicament. But I put it all aside and just ran. I did it every day, no matter the weather and how sore I was. After a while, I was shocked to discover that the exhilaration of barely being able to breathe was an absolute high. At the end of it, I knew I’d have a hill to run down. Over time, I found myself sprinting a half-mile before the incline. I added more and more distance until one day, it occurred to me that even distance wasn’t an issue. Years later, I wondered what it was that first day propelled me to stop yammering in my head about what I needed to do – and just do it.

My brother forced me to do pullups and lift weights in the horrid dirt floor cellar on the bottom level of the trailer we rented. He usually punctuated the necessity of compliance by punching me in the upper arm with enough force to numb it. Months later, I turned the tables on him when he told me I had to do at least a dozen pull-ups. I said, “After you, my lady, after which I will.” He struggled and finished. I jumped up on the bar and did thirty. “How many CAN you do?” The look on his face was hard to read. “I don’t know. I don’t count. Pullups aren’t a normal thing I do in the real world.” My brother Mike was ridiculously stronger than me. I didn’t like weights. But if I wasn’t practicing my French Horn or reading amongst the trees, it was safe to hide somewhere, anywhere, rather than inside, where the violence would erupt. I’d do anything to have my brother Mike around so I could duck, weave, and throw punches at HIM.

Later, I realized that when I didn’t have motivation, I would listen to a couple of the songs from Rocky and Rocky 3 in my head. “Eye of The Tiger” played ad nauseam everywhere back then. You couldn’t go to church without expecting to hear it being played in lieu of old hymns. That song always gave me the energy to beat my immobility inertia.

All these decades later, some of the music still motivates me. I loathe many of the songs on the soundtracks. Anything by that crack-voiced Frank Stallone, for example. The new remixes incorporate more of the wall of brass sound that the main theme personifies. It’s just raw power demanding that I stay focused.

Through the years, I discovered that almost all obstacles were a figment of my imagination. Could I do 1,000 pushups a day? No, but I could do 1,500. That’s a bit excessive, I know. I stopped doing quite so many a few days before my emergency surgery about sixteen months ago. Could I run a mile in under six minutes at age 55? Yes. Can I run as fast as my childhood best friend Mike? Hell, no. I still have mud in my nostrils from years ago when I tried to keep pace with him. (I decided he might be Superman.) Could I walk twenty a day if I want to? Yes.

I’ve failed at so many things. So please don’t read all this as a litany of humblebrags. I’m self-aware enough to understand that I wasted a lot of my time and energy. I am proud to be a Spanish bilingual and to be a liberal as an adult. Not just politically but across the spectrum relating to people.

The gist of it is that if we are focused enough to ask ourselves what our goals are, we probably can get there. If we want to. Regardless of most of the obstacles. Everyone has their obstacles. And yes, I do recognize my own privilege by writing all this. So many people have no opportunities or advantages. Mine were massive on both sides of the scale. I’m not so stupid as not to realize that despite the harsh hand I started out with, things are good.

I wish my life had a wall of horns blasting at key moments. It would drown out the complaining and haters, for one thing. It would help to get out of bed, too, not that I have that problem. I’m lucky enough to wake up rattling the rafters most days.

From “Eye Of The Tiger” to “Pancreas Of The Platypus” might be an ideal title for a book to describe my outlook on life.

PS That dust all over my vest is from rolling around on the floor with my cat. I can beat him wrestling any day.

Love, X

Last Nine TikToks

There will be at least one that resonated with you; I’m certain.